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By a Newsnet reporter 

SNP MSP Colin Keir is urging Ryanair to reconsider its plans to cut routes from Edinburgh Airport and says the company should be working to ensure the future of the airport is focused on expansion and not retraction.

Ryanair’s Chief Executive Michael O’Leary made the announcement yesterday that will see routes to Berlin and Tallinn axed and the planned routes to Malmo, Murcia and Ibiza scrapped.  The announcment comes after talks between Ryanair and BAA, which operates Edinburgh airport, broke down.

Michael O'Leary, Ryanair chief executive, said: "Ryanair regrets BAA Edinburgh Airport's rejection of our proposals for a competitive cost base which would allow Ryanair to further grow our traffic and routes for summer 2012. Sadly, BAA Edinburgh seems to prefer higher costs, even if it means fewer passengers and jobs at Edinburgh.

"We hope even at this late stage that BAA Edinburgh will realise that the way to grow traffic and jobs is by working with Ryanair to lower passengers fares, not raise them."

It is reported that the proposal would result in 300,000 fewer passengers and the potential loss of up to 300 jobs associated with the routes.

Mr O’Leary said this was a result of rising passenger fares – including the increasing costs of Air Passenger Duty.

However Jim O'Sullivan, managing director of Edinburgh Airport, said that Ryanair had made demands which the airport was unable to accept, saying: "We have tried extremely hard to negotiate with Ryanair but sadly on many issues have not been able to find common ground. For example, we cannot accept their wish to not pay the agreed air traffic control costs that all other airlines pay."

A spokesperson for Transport Scotland said: "The Scottish Government regrets Ryanair's decision to cut back its services out of Edinburgh Airport. We hope that the airline and the airport can reach a mutually acceptable agreement to maintain services and connectivity out of the airport.

"There is no shortage of interest by airlines wanting to develop connectivity from Scotland's airports, as has been exampled by Emirates offering a double daily service to Dubai from June, Jet2's continued expansion at Glasgow and Lufthansa's and Azerbaijan's growth at Aberdeen."

Mr Keir, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Western, whose constituency covers Edinburgh Airport, said:

"The future for Edinburgh Airport should be expansion not retraction. Ryanair should be working with the airport to ensure jobs and growth are at the heart of any proposals.

"This is a hammer blow to Edinburgh and I am urging Ryanair to reconsider. It is an extremely disappointing announcement at a time when companies should be encouraging development in the aviation industry.

"Edinburgh is an expanding Airport and I’d like to see Ryanair play a part in that expansion process. Edinburgh needs more direct flights to European and worldwide destinations.

"It's particularly disappointing that the capital city will lose its only direct connection to Berlin - that's bad news for consumers and businesses that depend on the service.

"I have written to the company urging it to find an alternative to this plan and seek reassurances about any potential job losses.

"But it also gives weight to Air Passenger Duty being devolved as the UK Government's refusal to do this is extremely damaging to Scotland's aviation industry.

"Recovery in the aviation sector is fragile and I fear this announcement will have a damaging effect both on the industry and, as a consequence on the Scottish economy, which is why I will continue to urge Ryanair to halt this plan."

The news of the cuts to Ryanair services to Edinburgh airport came as the UK government announced that control of Air Passenger Duty (APD) is to be devolved to the Northern Irish Assembly in 2012.  The news led to complaints that Scottish air passengers were being subjected to second class treatment.

SNP Westminster Transport spokesperson Angus MacNeil MP said:

“This is good news for Northern Ireland, but Scotland must have equality of treatment from the Treasury. It only raises further questions about the Prime Minister’s supposed commitment to more powers for Scotland, beyond the current Scotland Bill, that he said were ‘on the table’. Devolution of air passenger duty was one of the Calman Commission’s recommendations so people will be asking why it cannot be devolved now?

“People in Scotland should not be treated like second class passengers by the UK Government. There is overwhelming evidence for the devolution of APD with all four of Scotland’s largest airports backing the call and Transport Scotland saying there is no good reason why passengers in Scotland should have to continue to travel in such numbers through other UK airports or should not benefit from levels of connectivity enjoyed in other parts of the UK.

“Devolution of APD would enable us to incentivise airlines to provide new direct international routes, providing Scotland's passengers with enhanced options as they go about their business more freely and more effectively.  It would also provide a substantial boost to the Scottish economy and create jobs.

“This is a test for the UK Government in terms of the Prime Minister’s offer of more powers. They should allow Scotland to have control over flight taxes, just like Northern Ireland.”




# UpSpake 2012-02-22 07:40
No. No. No. You have this all wrong. Michael O'Leary is a classic entrepreneur. Posturing and playing for maximum advantage cutting just one route but maximising the supposed effect.
For decades Edinburgh ran a prohibitive landing charges regime where it was as costly to land a 737 at Edinburgh as it was to land a 747 at Heathrow.
That statistic is old and things might have changed now but substantially, I doubt it.
Watch for new owners desire to greatly expand the role of Edinburgh and for Mr. O'leary to announce a 'new deal' for Edinburgh whereby he will 'spectacularly' create loads of new routes and plenty of new jobs.
That's negotiation and todays minor skirmisk is all that it is, a skirmish and part of a process.
# Big Eye 2012-02-22 07:48
The cancellation of Scotland's only direct air link with Estonia is damaging to both countries irrespective of how it affects Edinburgh airport or Ryanair.

The whole airport issue is a potentially great one for the SNP and headquarters should dig out the Fair Fas Campaign policy papers from the 80's and 90's that highlighted the lack of direct routes and the fare discrimination and forced routing through London that costs Scots twice in charges and much higher fares.

An Independent Scotland could and should end this and give business and tourism a great boost. Just look at the difference between Scotland and Norway and Denmark in terms of air travel and you will see how countries of a similar size to Scotland manage fine
# Big Eye 2012-02-22 07:49
Sorry that should read the Fair Fares Campaign
# MAcandroid 2012-02-22 08:03
Big Eye - you can go back and edit your post you know.

Scotland will be able to remove some of the taxes like Air Passenger Duty once independent.
# Barontorc 2012-02-22 08:25
O'Leary plays hardball with everyone, including his passengers and if I can use any-one but Ryanair I will do so.

However, that's his business culture and bully for him, for which I couldn't care less, but it throws a great big spotlight on the tax /duty conditions lumbered onto us Scots, by an even less caring UK government.

For example, how we can be charged to use the National Power Grid for electricity we produce for users in the hot-house of the South of England, who are then, not even charged for the electricity they use via the grid, but moreover, are actually given a subsidy when using it, is a ludicrous scandal!

Keep your beady eyes off our water!!!
# clootie 2012-02-22 19:53
Sorry to disagree - I use Ryanair on a regular basis and prefer them to BA etc.

The requirements/conditions and additional costs are clear cut and crystal clear.

If you want no frills and a good price they are perfect.

The only downside is the lack of seat allocation.

The recovery and stability of prestwick airport is mainly down to Ryanair business.

Who has the most modern fleet in the UK!
# Old Smokey 2012-02-22 08:48
The Scottish Government should be approaching Estonian Air (
or Air Baltic ( or both to invite them to take over the route between Talinn and Edinburgh
# tartanfever 2012-02-22 09:02
So most of these routes he wants to scrap aren't even operational yet ? What's changed ? - Have costs suddenly gone through the roof ? - (I'm not aware of it) So possibly this is just a stunt by O'Leary in protest at only NI getting control of APD and not anyone else. 'Promise' the people new routes and use there so-called scrapping as a threat over APD control.

Mmm, this kind of outburst reminds me of a certain bra tycoon. Comments on twitter and her name calling of the Scottish Government suddenly appear a few days before she launches a new range of underwear at London's Dorchester hotel in a swish catwalk parade.

Coincidence ? I'll let you decide.

On a more pressing note, I feel that a more important issue with Edinburgh airport is it's sale to The Carlyle Group - a bid being championed by Scots banker Sir Angus Grossart. Last i heard this is the leading bid and it would be a shame to sell to this lot. There's plenty on the net on the Carlyle Group - spokespersons include George W, Blair, Major and major clients being the Bin Laden family.
# Old Smokey 2012-02-22 09:31
I agree tartanfever, there needs to be an eye kept on who is the favoured bidders through to the next round
One that I had prefered from the original bidders was Vantage Airport Group.
So we have Global Infrastructure Partners , owners of Gatwick and London City airport; JP Morgan Asset Management , no apparent airport management experience, which is worrying.; 3i, again no apparent airport management experience, which is also worrying ; lastly the Carlyle Group , who as you say, are not the kind of company that I would have running an airport.
The selection of the four smack of bean counter selection, that is getting the most money on the sale and forget about what they will do to the airport to get a return for their money
# Robert Louis 2012-02-22 09:17
Sorry, but the SNP have fallen for Ryanair 'spin' on this one.

I'll word this carefully, referring to airlines in general.

Sometimes, when routes are no longer working well financially, airlines will cut those routes. However, the trend nowadays is not to accept responsibility, but rather to blame an airport operator for the routes being cut. It makes the airline look like the 'consumer's champion', and the blame is shifted on to somebody else. It also can be useful to create public pressure on the airport to 'negotiate again with said airline'. It is a bargaining tool, no more, no less. It also ensures the stock market doesn't take fright at an airline cutting routes due to poor planning on the airlines part, and a decline in sales/profitability.

It is a classic 'it wisnae me', by the airlines when they do such things.

I might add, this has been done in many very small 'out of the way' airports across Europe, in order to secure cheap or even FREE landing rights, by some airlines.

There are two things right now, that are much more important for Scotland from an aviation perspective, firstly the sale of Edinburgh airport to certain financiers (as detailed by others above), and the creation of a route monopoly for Scotland to Heathrow routes by BA. These are what the Scottish Government need to bang on about.
# RJBH 2012-02-22 10:38
.. Im ammused that so many on this thread.. seem to have it in for a really excellent business man like Micheal O'Leary...Whatever else... he has done a great job.. without Ryanair.. Scotland would be a good deal worse off.
# tartanfever 2012-02-22 14:09
I think that there are legitimate questions to be answered.

Are the costs prohibitive ?

If so, how prohibitive, ie, is he losing money ?

If he is not losing money and making a pretty decent profit, then is it just about greed ?

If it is about greed and he doesn't give two hoots about providing jobs for people, then how 'good' a businessman is he ?

Certainly in my book that wouldn't entitle him to the kind of carte blanche approval that you are happy to provide.
# chicmac 2012-02-22 14:39
I agree with you 100%. The man created the largest airline in Europe despite incessant propaganda from the BBC whether it is news items or panel show comments. He really fought very hard to get flights into Inverness but met with point blank resistance from the UK government, which he blew the whistle on.

He has served Scotland well, and without him we would still arguably be in the situation where you need to fly to London to go anywhere else. Landing fees and taxes at BAA Scottish airports far outstripped those from Manchester and London airports.

Ryan Air is undeniably a budget airline but anyone who has travelled with them and with Easy Jet will know which is better for service, reliability and price.

As usual BBC Scotland tried to give the impression this was a Scotland v Ryan air row.

When the story came up I said to the wife 'Wait and see, for once they will wheel out a Scottish accented spokesperson!' I was right.
# Barontorc 2012-02-22 16:26
RJBH - He's certainly shaken up the competition - he also doesn't give a monkey's cuss for his punters - so to me that ain't excellent business acumen by a long way. You pays your money and you makes your choice - pity is he's choked off the alternative carriers who've long since gone and then he up sticks and moves! - We're certainly heaping praise on quite ruthless operators - Trump, Maxwell, O'Leary, etc,
# clootie 2012-02-22 20:04
Fully agree!
The huge savings I have had the opportunity to benefit from are achieved by aggresive marketing. However he does pass on a significant proportion of the savings to the customer.

We should be asking why BA are charging significantly higher fares on similar routes. Why attack the airline that is forcing them to constrain their fares.

The cartel operation from Aberdeen should be investigated if we want to look into the industry.
# Islegard 2012-02-22 14:52
Aren't BAA being forced to sell Edinburgh Airport? So are they going to run it into the ground as revenge?
# Legerwood 2012-02-22 16:48
Given BAA's level of debts I should think that is the last thing they want to do.
# Legerwood 2012-02-22 16:24
Like several posters above have said this has to be looked at a bit more closely. Three of the routes Mr O'Leary plans to cut - Malmo, Murcia and Ibiza - have not even commenced flying yet. Another one - the Berlin route - was due to end in May and the other route to Tallinn in Estonia has not flown since November last year.

Mr O'Leary appears to have been shroud waving in order to gain a decrease in charges. But the airport has another 39 carriers to consider and there would be a knock on effect if the charges are lowered for one and not the others.
It would also appear that Ryanair does not employ anyone directly at Edinburgh Airport so the loss of these flights some of which are non-existent at present is unlikely to have the impact on jobs that he claims.
# pmcrek 2012-02-22 18:20
Perhaps one day we wont have to travel to England to get a cheap flight out of the UK.
# Legerwood 2012-02-22 18:28
When that day comes there will no longer be a 'UK' as it is now.
# Arbroath1320 2012-02-22 19:05
A bit tongue in cheek here.

Am I right in thinking that Edinburgh airport is up for sale for around about £120 million?

Why don;t we all persuade that lovely couple from Largs, Chris and Colin Weir, to buy the airport. I'm sure they would look upon the "purchase" as a benefit to Scotland. After all they did make a sizeable donation to the SNP didn't they?
# tartangladbach 2012-02-22 19:09
i'm hearing rumours that Santander is to buy RBS? any truth i wonder?
# gfaetheblock 2012-02-22 20:24
Agree with many of the posters here, odd for a MSP to get sucked in my Ryanair's schtick. Loosing jobs that have never been created!
# Arbroath1320 2012-02-22 22:37
I don't know if any one else has seen this, but it might add a little fuel to the fire.
# Arbroath1320 2012-02-22 23:16
Not strictly on topic but aviation related which if enforced in the future by the E.U. could lead to some interesting situations developing, not just for long haul flights either in my view.

What is extremely worrying ,in my view, is that according to the piece the C.A.A., allegedly, appear to be supporting this move by the E.U.

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